Homes, A. M. The End of Alice. 1996. New York: Scribner, 1997. Summary
: A middle-aged pedophile convicted of brutally murdering a 12-year-old girl named Alice begins correspondence with 19-year-old young woman who aspires to have intimate relations with an underaged boy named Matthew. Though the young woman turns out not to be a true "connoisseur" in the narrator's self-styled spirit, her presence in his life helps him liberate himself from a masochistic homosexual relationship with his cellmate Clayton and revives his recollection of Alice's end. Comments
: Frankly sexual and written to shock from all possible angles, what interested me most were not the varieties of kinky sex or criminal transgression, but rather the deliberate way in which Homes defies reader expectations of her characters. For example, this is the first time I've ever read a novel about a teenaged FEMALE pedophile. Yet, more subtly, she offers up big surprises in the two main characters: Alice, seemingly a knowing, impish, Lolita
-type character, ultimately panics naively when sees blood on the sheets from her first period, and the unnamed narrator, seemingly a brilliant, manipulative sexual predator of the highest order, is ultimately revealed to have acted out of fear and impulse, not plot. In short, no one is as in control as they seem--hell, not even the author writes with over-ebullient, adolescent prose--and nothing means much of anything. Notes
: trade paperback, 8th printing Rating
- This most post-modern of post-modern novels is trying just a bit too hard.